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Mystical ResistanceUncovering the Zohar's Conversations with Christianity$
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Ellen D. Haskell

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190600433

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190600433.001.0001

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The Ascension of Balaam

The Ascension of Balaam

Subverting Christian Sacred Stories

(p.85) 4 The Ascension of Balaam
Mystical Resistance

Ellen D. Haskell

Oxford University Press

This chapter is the second of two dealing with the Zohar’s reinvention of the gentile prophet Balaam to challenge Christian claims regarding Jesus’ death and ascension. It presents the Zohar’s dramatic death-of-Balaam narrative, in which the villainous prophet and magician flies into the air to escape Jewish authority. Detailed analysis of this text reveals how it critiques Christian theological traditions and ritual practices that include the relic cult, the eucharist, the Antichrist, and gospel narratives like the Stilling of the Storm. In conjunction with chapter 3, this chapter explains how the Zoharic Kabbalists developed Balaam into a character neither fully Balaam nor fully Christ, but a Balaam reimagined to intersect with Christ and Christianity.

Keywords:   Kabbalah, Zohar, medieval, Jewish-Christian relations, ascension theology, relic cult, eucharist, polemic, Antichrist

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